A&E Review

Taylor Swift Topping Charts… Again, with Thirteen Sleepless Nights

This month, Taylor Swift released her 10th album, “Midnights.” Having covered so many different genres of music including country, pop, folk and alternative there are so many ways to connect to Swift’s music. The most recent album, a synth-pop style, is a drastic change from her two 2020 albums, “Evermore” and “Folklore,” being alternative and indie folk respectively. Sounding similar to her 2014 album “1989” and “reputation” from 2017, this new album is nostalgic and channels her earlier music.

What sets this album apart from all of the other pop albums coming out this year? “Midnights” has broken records by covering all top ten spots on Billboard’s Hot 100 songs. This is a record achieved by no one else in history. 

This album was advertised through social media posts by Taylor Swift as “the stories of thirteen sleepless nights scattered throughout my life.” Each song tells a story of a different night in the singer/songwriter’s past, creating a euphoric and reflective collection of Swift’s loneliest and most glamorous memories.

Categorized as an electric pop album by Wikipedia, this record is a full 180 turn from her last couple of albums. The Apple Music summary describes the album as full of modern synths combined with the mid-century aesthetic. The modern edge that the electro-vibe has is often paired with the softer undertones of the ’70s.

Jordan Stokes, a second-year writing major, is a self-proclaimed Taylor Swift mega-fan and was looking forward to the release of “Midnights.” Stokes had a listening party with her roommate the night it came out and they enjoyed the new album together in their dorm. Stokes is a long-time fan, and because of this she said that this album was highly anticipated and did not let her down.

“No one really knew how it was going to sound based on her past two albums and how she’s traditionally a pop artist,” Stokes said. “When it finally got here I was instantly drawn towards it.”

“Midnights” is a different sounding album from the last four albums Swift has released. With two re-recordings and two new albums, collectively none compare to this sound. Going in such a different creative direction can stir up mixed emotions for fans who may feel uncomfortable with this new territory. Stokes recognizes Swift’s flexibility with genres and says that this album cements Swift as a pop artist. 

“It’s been cool to watch her go from country, to pop, to almost an alternative sound with her last two albums,” said Stokes. “This album feels ‘full circle’ in her career so far.”

Bailie Tucker, a second-year nursing student, also had some mixed feelings about “Midnights.” Although she has always been a fan of Swift’s music, Tucker says that this style of music initially turned her off from listening to the album.

“I personally like songs that show off her vocals rather than instrumentals and I feel like this album didn’t do that as much as I’d like,” said Tucker.

For Tucker, “Midnights” fell short when compared to Swift’s past albums, however she can’t deny that it is still a catchy record.

“I do think that Taylor [Swift] did a great job with this album, it just didn’t personally connect with me in the way that I would have wanted it to,” Tucker said.

“It’s been amazing to be able to watch her sound change throughout the years,” said Tucker. “I think the fact that she started out as a country artist and is currently one of the biggest artists in pop music speaks a lot about her talent.”

Esther Freeman, a first-year commercial music performance major, is a new fan of Taylor Swift. Having a newer relationship with the artist has allowed Freeman to view “Midnights” with a different perspective.

“A lot of people have mixed feelings about this album, but since I’m a newer Swiftie, I like it a lot,” said Freeman. “She seems to step into a different genre with every album, and I love that she brought something new to the table.”

As a singer-songwriter herself, Freeman believes that because she has a closer relationship with music, there are more factors that she can appreciate when listening to Swift, coming from an analytical perspective, rather than just being another fan. 

“Because I’m so interested in music, and the quality and passion of it, I always like music that is complex, clever, passionate, but understandable,” said Freeman. “… so Taylor Swift is naturally someone I look up to in that area.”

With 13 initial tracks and an extended edition of 20 tracks, this album covers a wide range of musical styles and themes. Whether you’re a Taylor Swift fan or not, her song “Bejeweled” encapsulates Swift the best: “A diamond’s gotta shine.”

Written By: Madelyn Walthall